In Minnesota, What Does it Mean to be Charged with Criminal Vehicular Homicide?

shutterstock_19735627-1000-ffccccccWhite-3333-0.20.3-1A recent vehicular homicide case in Minneapolis has brought the seriousness of this crime to the forefront of people’s minds. A man who was allegedly driving while intoxicated struck and killed another man who was out riding his bike in South Minneapolis. The driver now faces charges of criminal vehicular homicide.

Under Minnesota law, what does it mean to be charged with criminal vehicular homicide?

Vehicular homicide involves causing another person’s death while operating a vehicle, in a manner that isn’t classified as murder or manslaughter. The courts need to demonstrate that the suspect caused the death under at least one of the following circumstances:

  • Driving the vehicle in a grossly negligent manner.
  • Driving the vehicle in violation of a DWI law; this applies both to alcohol and to various controlled substances.
  • Violating the state’s fleeing laws by failing to remain at the scene after a collision the suspect caused.
  • Driving with a vehicle that had received a citation for poor maintenance or defectiveness. Under these circumstances, the driver needs to have known about the potential consequences of the defect and knowingly neglected to take any actions to remedy it; the fatal accident needs to have also been caused by the defect in the vehicle.

In this recent case, the driver was reportedly speeding when he hit the bike rider, and initial breath test results placed his blood alcohol content at .27. Penalties for criminal vehicular homicide include years of jail time and thousands of dollars in fines.

Under Minnesota law, criminal vehicular homicide is one of six levels of criminal vehicle operation. The other levels apply to situations when there’s bodily injury of different levels of severity, and death or bodily injury to an unborn child. In all cases, the circumstances of negligence, DWI violation, fleeing, and/or knowingly driving with a defective vehicle also hold.

Often, criminal vehicular homicide and other types of criminal vehicle operation occur under circumstances involving DWI. If you’ve been charged with this crime, contacting a Minneapolis DWI attorney to review your case and advocate for you is necessary for ensuring fair treatment by the legal system.